Thanks so much to the collector who purchased a 13×19 print of “One Fine Day”. 😊 [Click pic for Etsy site.]
When I was a little girl, I used to stand in front of my bathroom mirror. We were abjectly poor and our house dilapidated. Melting snow on our wood-burning stove in the living room to make hot water was not an unusual occurrence, but unfortunately, by the time we got to the top floor- all the way in the back section where the bathroom was- our collected water in the tub had already grown lukewarm, if not altogether cold.
My entire childhood was a master class in survival. Holes in our walls allowed the opossums (and other rodents) to crawl in at will and it wasn’t unusual to find a fat one sitting atop the kitchen table, helping itself to whatever scraps it might find.
I wore my older brother’s outgrown hand-me-down blue jeans; they were known as “high waters” because they were far above the ankle. They almost always had well-worn holes in the knees, from years of my brothers’ running and playing and rolling and chasing. I was the lucky recipient who got their unwanted gems.
My bed was a bare mattress- the jail kind- that was blue and white pin-striped, stuffed with feathers. It had long ridden itself of its skin- the dirty, urine-soaked sheets that stayed saturated with cold pee. Even when I was given fresh, clean sheets for my bed, which didn’t happen often, they didn’t stay clean for long. Within 24 hours, they were guaranteed to be soaked again.
I was told by one of my caretakers that I would be hooked up to electrodes and shocked if I continued wetting the bed. The thought of being electrocuted as I slept terrified me and created a lifelong fear of going to sleep. Thankfully, they never followed through with that awful plan but there was always a fear that I would be hurt or punished if I continued wetting the bed. There was nothing I could do to stop it! How do you wake yourself up to go pee as a child with no alarm clock? I don’t think anybody in the world is that talented.
Regardless, nobody stepped in and tried to proactively help me. There were no responsible adults who set a schedule to wake me through the night, guaranteeing that I wouldn’t continue wetting the bed. It was a brutal childhood. And, of course, there was the sexual abuse. As if wetting the bed wasn’t enough, I had a dual fear of being molested. I never knew when he would come for me- calling me downstairs after everybody else had left. I was forced to do unspeakable and shameful acts that no 9 year old child should ever have to do.
I’ve done my research: Adults who were sexually abused as children usually don’t end up faring well in life. They more than likely end up with a boatload of psychological and emotional problems, and they usually end up statistics.
I’ve always felt God’s hand on me. Even during the worst of days as a child on Cherry street. I used to go into my Mom and Dad’s prayer closet and pull the old string that hung down from the low-hanging ceiling. I felt as if I was in the presence of something so Great and Holy! (And I was.) I could smell the anointed oil placed there on the shelf, reverently. I could smell The LORD.
I would open the King James Bible and seek out the red letters. I knew that those were Jesus’ words and I only wanted to say what He’d said. So I sat there, trembling excitedly as I read out loud all of Jesus’ words from the New Testament. I felt so close to God during those precious times, alone in there with Jesus. I felt so special and loved because I knew that He could hear me.
At night I would pull the sheets (if I had them) or clothing up to my nose and slowly cover my eyes with a clever smile. I knew that I was surrounded by angels. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were there. I thought that if I hid under the blankets, I could pop out quickly and surprise-catch them! I never did, of course, but I always knew that they were there with me. Before I fell into fitful sleep, I would say goodnight to all of my friends, “Good night Noah. Good night Jonah. Good night Jesus. Good night Moses.’ And on and on. I knew that they could hear me too and had the comprehension at that young age to understand that I wasn’t alone as it seemed.
I looked into the bathroom mirror there, on a regular basis, peering deeply into the timid eyes I saw staring back at me. Skinny, sheepish, scared, curious. I was obsessed with my future. It created a world of curiosity within me, not knowing who I would be when I grew up. I wanted to be a good person so badly and do good or important things for others. Even at that age, I was fiercely driven. I was compelled to look down the road and see something worthy and good. I only saw a blank canvas and that frightened me.
I didn’t have the answers that I desperately needed to satisfy my soul. It was almost unbearable not knowing what kind of woman or person I would become as an adult. How could I be certain that I would “end up good”? It was my daily companion- the constant fear of who I wanted to be but afraid I wouldn’t be or able to be. Ten year old girls are often curious and self-doubting about what they’ll be like as adults, but I was having a full-blown existential crisis.
Over the years, I’ve derailed myself multiple times from achieving the personal goals I set for myself. My life has been monumentally challenging, to say the least. As I sit here now, typing into the wee morning hours, I think of that scared little girl in the mirror.
It’s only natural that I would be self-reflecting and doing a life review at 5:00 a.m. on this early Saturday morning. I only have four weeks to go and then I’ll be graduating with my Master’s in Psychology in Addiction Counseling. It’s been a long haul! I’m ridiculously giddy. 🙂 I really did it. It wasn’t always easy but I did it.
Only over these past few days have I begun to see a clearer picture of my life. For the past few years I’ve been privately fretting about becoming an addiction counselor. I have no doubt, especially given my personal experience and history, that I’d be able to help many people in their lives. I have no doubt that I’d break new ground in that industry and blaze my own trail. But would it satisfy my soul, truly? I don’t have that answer but I’m leaning toward, “No, it wouldn’t.”
I’m an artist. And a musician. And a photographer. And a singer. And a teacher. And a counselor. (I never said that I was a “practicing counselor” but I’m most certainly a trained one.) And I’m an author- a published author. A children’s book author. At some point, I may want to finally promote my book or use it as a tool to work with kids. I’ve always seen me doing that somewhere. All I’ve ever had was a murky outline, with no distinguishing features. But now, God is showing me the direction He wants me to go in.
When I had written my Pastor, Rev. Berneice Hicks a decade ago, I had shared with her that I had enrolled as a freshman to go into Business Administration. She wrote me back and encouraged me to get out of that department and apply myself to an area in which I could “better utilize my talents”. I loved that she said that but it brought with it a measure of fear and uncertainty. How would I know what I wanted to do? How would I know where to go?
It was like walking blindly into the fire but trying to believe that you won’t be burned if you just believe it hard enough. Even so, I withdrew from Business Administration (immediately) and signed up for Behavioral Sciences. I knew that I could at least segue into something ‘people-y” later, sticking closely to her recommendation.
So for the past decade as I’ve worked on my Associates, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees (and Substance Abuse certification), I’ve been tossing myself into the waves of uncertainty, rolling through every year with an ever-increasing amount of fear that I was moving in a direction of total blackness. Despite having a Master’s degree in Psychology )and Addiction Counseling), I still wouldn’t be able to be an addiction counselor (not a good one, anyway) without two subsequent years of supervised internship/practicum in counseling! Two full years of that!
I’ve been praying lately, asking God to show me where He wants me to be in this world. I’m willing! I just didn’t know what to do or where to go to truly make a difference in other people’s lives. This past week, He answered me.
I’ve always had an interest in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), also known as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language). Most programs offer 120 (study) hours, minimally, but there are a few other organizations that offer 160 hours, 180 hours, 230 hours and even up to 290 hours. The 290 hours courses are known as “master TEFL classes” and you’re a legitimate expert in the field if you receive this type of certification. For the record, people typically don’t choose something as challenging as 290 hours of TEFL certification.
I’ve eyeballed this career path for the past few decades and have always had an unhealthy interest in this industry. Who wouldn’t want to travel abroad to Thailand or Vietnam and live in a rent-free dwelling on a beautiful exotic island- and be paid to work there?! Most TEFL organizations pay their teachers $1,500 -$1,650 per month. That’s pretty good already, but when you consider that they’re paying your rent on top of your salary- it goes from pretty good to phenomenal. TEFL teachers also receive side perks, such as monetary incentives to maintain standards, as well as other personal and financial bonuses. Some TEFL organizations even offer “exit compensation” of anywhere from $500- $3,000.
When you add up all of the monies and rewards, it becomes an incredibly good deal. As I move closer to graduation, I know that I’m leaving college for good. I’ll never return. (Not to a traditional “college”, anyway.) The only education I’m willing to take after receiving my Master’s degree is to study for and receive my TEFL certification. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 🙂
A decade ago, the industry looked very different. There have been many technological advancements over the past ten years! Whereas, years ago it was necessary to actually travel to China, or England, or the TEFL country of choice. Nowadays, those same lessons are taught online, in an online classroom. Of course, many people are in it specifically for the cultural experiences too, but if traveling to another country isn’t exactly ideal, it’s good to know the same job can be done via distance education, virtually– 100%.
I believe at some point I will want to travel abroad. I do see myself doing that at some point down the road. But for now, I’ll be teaching English to foreign language speakers (FLS) here in America. I cannot tell you how absolutely stoked I am to finally see the big picture in my life! It’s no longer a hazy outline, but a wildly vivid, technicolour explosion of hope, chance, possibility, and change. I have surely risen from the ashes and am taking flight. 🙂
Being the exceedingly driven, type A, overachiever that I am, naturally, the 120 hour fast track TEFL certification is simply not enough, so I signed on straightaway for the 290 hour “TEFL master class”. If I’m going to do this thing, I really want to DO THIS THING.
I want to be the absolute best that I can be and want to learn as much as I possibly can. I’ve learned by now that if you put in the hard work, in the beginning, you can reap the rewards later. You must first sew the seeds of patience, determination, dedication, focus, energy, and passion into the academic soil and water them with your hard-earned sweat. Only then will anything worthwhile come from that soil. There are no shortcuts! Ever.
I’ve just installed the Duolingo App on my Android, which I’ll use to learn Chinese. I’m also studying Swahili, and will continue my studies in Spanish. I plan on being at least quadrilingual when all is said and done. My target countries of interest are China, Africa, and South America, so if/when I do ever want to transition from online TEFL teaching, I’ll have learned several correlating languages to the countries of my interest.
(My intentions are not to become entirely fluent in Swahili and Chinese. I do however want to be able to comfortably culturally assimilate while in those regions. I’ve just begun studying Chinese and Swahili a few days ago. I will continue studying Spanish, however, unit I’m completely fluent. I have plans for South America- particularly Peru- down the road, and although Peruvians don’t speak 100% Spanish, I’ll be more than prepared by being fluent in Spanish.)
My core foundational TEFL course is 168 hours and its official title is the “Ofqual-Regulated Level 5 Course”. Along with that course, I also signed on for 4 specialization courses which are all 30 hours apiece. (Together, they culminate into the 290 hour “expert certification”.)
My TEFL certification course is officially called the “290 Hour TEFL MASTER Training Course” and the 4 specialization TEFL courses are:
* 30 Hour Teaching IELTS Module (International English Language Testing System)
* 30 Hour Teaching TOEIC Module (Test of English for International Communication)
*30 Hour Teaching Business English Module
*30 Hour Teaching Young Learners Module
There’s no such thing as “pie in the sky” and there are no lucky breaks in life. There’s a purpose for everything and everyone- accidents do not exist. I’m so grateful for my incredibly wise Dad who taught me so much about the world and God and human nature. He used to say to me often, “It says in Ecclesiastes 9:11, ‘Time and chance happeneth to them all'”. He also shared with me Jesus’ words about the rain falling on the just and the unjust equally, and the sun shining on them both too. He taught me that God gives everybody the same chances in life, and He’s indeed no respecter of persons. With that in mind. there are no excuses for not being able to accomplish one’s dreams in life! Look at my start in life. Every card in that stack was stacked against me. I was told by strangers, family, and anybody and everybody that I was “broken”- damaged goods. I almost believed them.
I chose to believe that I can do anything that I want to do in this world and I’m only as weak as I believe I am. Nobody can hold me back from accomplishing my goals and dreams but me. Some people are so bitter and angry and stay that way throughout their entire lives. They blame others for their misfortunes despite that it was them who made those choices. They choke on their own hatred and drown in their envy. I’m so glad God snatched me up from certain doom and carved a compassionate heart into me. He saved me from an unholy fire, truly.
I want to teach others english as my job, but my real reward will be inspiring other disadvantaged individuals in life and helping them to overcome their seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I’m a living, breathing miracle and I know that if I can walk through the fires that I’ve walked through without being consumed, then I can help others do that too. ❤
I see the little girl standing on the toilet, trying to reach the mirror’s height. I see the worry and fear etched into her young face, and I think, “It’s alright, sweetheart. You’re gonna make it.” ❤
“One Fine Day”
Click Here to Purchase
Perrin Park, Jeffersonville, IN- Oct. 26th, 2019- Rebel t3i + Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8
Click HERE to purchase in Monochromejunkie Ebay store.
(Brand new and under construction. 🙂 )
8 x 10 – $25, Set of 2 – $45
13 x 19 – $55, Set of 2 – $85
This is for you, Sean.
I’m so sorry you couldn’t find the comfort you so desperately needed in this world.
I’m sorry that the system failed you. (It failed me too, in many ways.)
I’m sorry that the only solution they offered was to shove fistfulls of pills into you.
I’m sorry they convinced you to undergo Electric Shock Therapy.
I’m sorry that you were hurting so badly inside. More than anyone knew.
I’m sorry that you spent your entire life doubting that anyone cared for you.
I can’t accept the fact that you’re really gone.
I found your book on Amazon: Stories of How I End. Which is like your entire blog, pressed into a book. I’ll buy a copy soon, and I’ll do what I can to promote your work.
I will make that promise to you. And I will keep it, friend. I miss you.
I’m sorry. x
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Center. Clermont, KY- last day of winter 2019. [Helios 44-2. film]
13 x 18 = Large = $53
8 x 10 = Medium = 33
5 x 7 = Small = $18
Click image to purchase.
There’s a reason I chose the username Monochromejunkie: It’s because I’m obsessed with black and white photography. To me, nothing is more beautiful than a bold black and white image with heavy, dark blacks and stark whites. These days, people are so used to simply slapping a filter on something or doing a quick and easy B&W conversion.
it takes a well-trained eye to look out upon a landscape or street scene and be able to convert that over to a B&W in your mind and truly “see” a black and white. Because reds, greens, and blues all convert into various shades of black, white, and grey, you need to know what would truly make a good black and white, because not every scene does.
This past year, I’ve been in a photographic funk and sorely uninspired. 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. So many troubles with some of my children and their private struggles, along with the death of close friends and loved ones. It really kicked me in the teeth and that alone can kill your passion for your art.
After coming back to my blog and writing again, I rediscovered my friend Gav’s black and white photography. He’s an excellent street photographer, but what he’s really good at, more so than anyone else I’ve ever known, is staying in black and white mode. Nevertheless, year after year, he continues shooting in black and white and never seems to grow bored with it.
Seeing his beautiful black and whites have woken up my first love: black and white photography. I’ve wanted to shoot in B&W mode (only) for a year straight- for a long time, but never had the courage to take that plunge. I know though, that if I don’t do that, then I’ll never commit. And if I don’t commit to truly knowing the ins and outs of black and white and really learning it, then I never will grow as a photographer and artist to the degree that I want to.
I’ve decided to finally take the plunge! I’m putting my camera in monochrome mode and leaving it there for an entire year. It actually began yesterday, so until March 8th of 2020, I’ll be shooting in nothing but black and white. This way, rather than focusing on various colours, I can keep my focus on lighting and exposure. So Gav, if you’re reading this, thank you! You’ve been a major inspiration and have woken up my love of black and white again. It’s not for everybody. But for people like us, it’s what drives us.
I took these yesterday, at Sellersburg park (Indiana) while taking Chance and Diamond on our mile walk. Just as we were getting ready to leave, it started snowing. That was a nice touch. 🙂 (These are basically SOOTC/straight out of the camera.)
A new bud gets its first taste of the snow. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35-2.8
The most beautiful rain is falling outside right now. I awoke an hour or so ago to the rain falling on my tin roof in a most beautiful enveloping wall of sound. The rain is my favourite thing ever because I feel like God is corralling me off. It satisfies the intense hermit in me that wants to shut my door and windows and seal off the world. The rain says it’s ok to slow it all down to a crawl and not have to be bothered with the things outside my door. The rain sings a most beautiful song. 🙂
I suppose as I grow older (am I really going to be 50 this fall?!), I’m giving in more to my hidden persona; the Jane Goodall-like hippie that wants nothing more than to spend the entire day in the forest, taking macros of little things in their little worlds- up close. I can’t believe I’ve been in school for an entire decade now! I’m so ready to be finished with it all so I can finally- finally- focus on my art, photography, and music. I’m looking forward to closing the books once and for all (along with my many, MANY research papers) and buy an Epson professional printer and set up a small area of our new home (to be, soon); a proper print shop.
It’s going to take a lot of dedication and time, but I’m so looking forward to it. I’ll be afforded the luxury- after school- of not having to work. Even for several years, or never at all, if I want. I can stay home and go out and about and take all the pics I want- go where I like, and do virtually anything I want. When I’m ready, I can put on that periwinkle suit and Addiction Counselor hat (if I so choose) and make my mark on the world as a counselor. But first, I’ll explore my art. It’s an exciting thing to be able to wake up early in the morning and head out with my camera and collection of vintage film lenses in my Nat. Geo. bag. People who aren’t photographers probably don’t get it.
It’s such a rush to be able to go out into the world and see what only I can see. I can shape my perspective in a unique way and be a storyteller without words. To lay in the plush green mossy ground on the forest floor in the warm, afternoon sunshine and spend hours focusing my lens on tiny little things on leaves. I’m a visitor in their world. It’s an incredible thing to be able to make the tiniest corner of a leaf come into focus, making the rest of the leaf the size of a house, by comparison. Ants become giants and mushrooms- stadiums. It’s exhilarating!
But the real rush is taking the loot home and going through all of the images: Sizing up what stays or what gets tossed out. Whittling the pile down until only a few remaining “money shots” remain and those are the ones which will be edited and post processed. A full day’s shoot- and many hours- for 3 or 4 shots in the end. It’s the experience of it all, from loading up the bag to editing the chosen few to submitting or uploading the shots. And it’s all free! You really can’t beat that. It’s therapy. Photo-therapy at its finest.
Although my latest course Addiction Counseling and Families essentially began yesterday, my Discussion Board posts aren’t due until Thursday. Ever the procrastinator, I think I’ll spend the day lounging in my insanely plush (new) pillow top queen bed (that I um…bought Josh for Christmas. That’s right…it’s all for him! 🙂 ) and edit a new batch of pics from our Thanksgiving trip in the Smokey Mountains. Yes, my life ha been so busy and crazy that I’m only now getting around to editing my Thanksgiving shots from 2018!
Despite having 6 vintage (imported) Bulgarian and Romanian film lenses, only the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 (my favourite lens ever) was used- throughout the entire trip. It never left my camera. These are two of many I’ll be editing over the next few days:
Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens (Canon Rebel t3i) – An interesting tree I found on the way up to Clingmans Dome, in Smoky Mountain National Park, in southeastern Tennessee and North Carolina, U.S.
This one is Josh’s. (His capture, my edit.) The Appalachian Trail sign at the base of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon film lens 35/2.8- Canon Rebel t3i
So yep. I’m IG official! Short post, because I have so much schoolwork by my deadline tonight, but I wanted to leave this fingerprint here for my WP family & peeps of years gone by- for whoever may find this floating out in [cyber] space. So here ya go:
@birgittalindsey <<< IG/Insta
Au Voir! ❤
Life has simply been whizzing by at the speed of sound, lately. Today, I started another semester and as much as I wanted to take it easy and take only one course, I took two (again). At the Master’s level, this is considered full-time. My undergrad. years were so much easier! I had tons to read each week, of course, and tests at the end of each week, but at least I didn’t have research to do (on this level) and the research papers never end; they really don’t.
I’ve spent the past week in bed, nursing a pulled muscle in my back. For some unknown reason I thought it’d be a good idea to touch my nose to my knees- like I did when I trained as a cross-country runner from ages 9-12. Um, not a great idea! I’m 48, not 28. 😉
Yesterday I had planned to stay in bed, healing my back, but in all honesty, I was all better. I just wanted to stay in bed- I’m not going to lie! Josh challenged me to get out and grab some fresh shots, seeing how we were hit with a freak-blizzard on the 2nd official day of spring. So, I did, and came up with these:
Cemetery- Super TAk 50 MM f/4-film. Shot in monochrome. 8th street.
Nothing new to add; just wanted to check in and leave a few words as a “time marker”. I miss my kids SO MUCH. Especially Brian. MAN I love that kid….I love them all, but he’s my only son. My kids own my heart and it hurts so much to let them go! But as a parent, life becomes a long succession of always letting them go. Again and again. You just have to work around it and make your happiness and peace with it, through it, and around it. Enjoy what love and laughter you have and appreciate the good times when they come. It’s taken me a long time to understand that pain is also a friend. Darkness and loneliness make the good times that much better.
oh. And speaking of bad times, perimenopause has me in its wretched teeth and has me sweating all throughout the day. It’s just God-awful. The hot flashes! 20 times per day. I swear, they are HORRIBLE. I just got out of the shower and I’m already drenched.
And here’s my 8 pic pano. of the cemetery that has absolutely nothing do with anything that I’m saying. Again- “time marker”. My blog is my little time capsule. I can tell where I was in my life (at whatever time) by the pics I take. I appreciate my ever-changing style too though, so this blog is a good way to track my growth and artistic evolution.
Until next time!
8 pic stitched-pano. Super-tak 50 MM f/4- film- cemetery- 8th. st.
Here’s another one for you, Gav. Helios 44-2 (one of my favourite lenses ever- imported from Romania)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 60 x 40 (customizable) Canvas/gallery wrap available for purchase here.
This is why I said your Puddle Tree reminded me of my work. 🙂 (And it does, no?) I get so inspired by dreary days and rain, don’t you?
And on that note, I’m up with the chickens today and will be taking a photo walk down by the tracks behind my place. There’s a creek and some interesting foliage and such; I’ll see what I can grab down there. (Check back later!) As always, thanks for always being such an inspiration in the world of black and white and to all other monochromejunkies such as (yourself and) me. 😉
I’ve got until Sunday to cover 400 pages- midterms. [Insert scream here!]
Midterms (and finals) are always so much freaking pressure! I’m still at a B+ in Behavioral Neuroscience and a strong A in Cognitive Psychology, but any ole way you slice it- midterms are crazy. I find myself using straight up avoidance (which is actually worse than denial, because at least with denial, you’re not always aware that you’re in denial, but with avoidance, it’s sort of like knowing you’re in denial and choosing to do so anyway- and yes, I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a psychologist!) and so it’s Friday night and I’m down to the wire.
What am I doing? Installing Still Life II. I actually get to be the detective and the abducted person who’s trapped in the psycho serial killer’s booby trap-laden house (think : “Saw”).
Avoidance. Utter, blatant avoidance.
But fun! 🙂
And this is for you, Gav. I know you’ve been down lately, and you’re not feeling much inspired, but I want you to know just how much you inspire me. I have so much respect for you because over the past 8 years or so that I’ve known you (originally from Redbubble) but here too these past few years, you go out – day after day- and shoot nothing but black and white/monochrome. Street scenes, people- life. And, you have a prominent talent with shadows and lighting- which I love. I’ve only shared this with one other person, but I’ve decided to devote an entire year- all of 2015- to solely black and white/monochromatic photography. No colour allowed! For an entire year. it’s going to be great. 🙂 So, while you feel “blah” lately, please know that your work and talent continues to inspire others. This is for you:
I don’t know how much longer I can do this school thing. Many of my friends are now applying for residencies- Bell, a brilliant writer has just applied to a writer’s residency in a remote fishing village in the Arctic Circle and another friend just got back from her residency in a remote rural area in Southern Iceland. I could probably list 50 others (no, seriously) right off the top of my head who are flying here and there and working hard on their exhibitions. They’re truly amaaaaaazing people and I’m really getting to the point to where I miss the crap out of them! It’s more than that. When you form a bond with a tight group of artists- for years- you come to know each other so well. And, you become a cycle of flowing water, each watering the other and eventually, you’re not even “you” any more but hundreds of other people- all reflecting one another.
Because of the hardships that have smacked me down over the past few months, I’ve had to put off my schoolwork until the last minute. I simply couldn’t do anything about it. Now, I’m facing 30 assignments in two combined classes and my deadline is March 7th. Am I screwed, or what?!
I have the resources to take a year off. I won’t have any extra money, but I would be able to minimally pay my bills and rent, buy food, but not much more. I’m not ready to jump into a “career”, socially speaking, not until I finish school, and so I’ve been in this tailspin for quite some time. My complaints are still the same. I want to do so many things with my art and music: I simply can’t as long as I’m in school.
And school is choking the living daylight out of me. Sure, I’m accomplishing small goals, always. But my bigger ones are drying up, such as, making a music CD, doing more school readings with my book- guh. I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Tonight, I’m supposed to work on my assignments, but I have to hook up with my art peeps and reconnect.
I can’t believe it’s March and there’s this much snow on the ground.
My red wine awaits. I have to take a freaking break before I blow a gasket.
I’ll be back…
Recently, I sold a print on Redbubble (a pic of my former pet: Sketch titled Black Beauty) and the mystery buyer chose to remain anonymous. If you (the buyer) happen upon my blog, thank you so much for the purchase! It really made my day. :0)
I hope you enjoy our Sketch as much as my children and I have.
Lighting is your friend, ladies!
Seeing how I’ve been getting all this extra attention lately, I thought it a good time to make a post about how to take a good selfie (technically speaking). Anybody that knows me truly knows that:
a.) I don’t take myself too seriously. Ever.
b.) I look 20 years younger than I actually am, thanks to Photoshop. (I’m 44.)
c.) I don’t shave my legs and I really don’t care. (But that’s beside the point.)
Normally, I stay oblivious to my “audience” and rarely write for others. Not that I have anything against that, I’m particularly too lazy to keep up with all of the hooplah and riffraff. But tonight, I decided to address selfies and lighting and that sort of thing, because, who doesn’t have a few bad selfies lying around? (I have hundreds.) Not that I’m a narcissist, I’m a photographer: there’s a difference. (Not really.) But if you have a guy-friend that pilfers through your hard drive like I used to do with my ex’s, then you can just tell him “you’re a photographer” and he won’t think twice about it.
I have a bit of a cheap wine hangunder at the moment, so I’ll keep this list short and sweet. I know there are all sorts of one-click filters out there to make you look all selfielicious and everything, but if you stick to these pointers, I promise you, you’ll cut a few corners, save time, and look a heck of a lot better.
- Go into the light!
Find a “window light” source. It doesn’t have to be fancy; everything I do is cheap and at a fraction of the cost that others spend. Natural window lighting is the best light in the world for selfies- I promise! Don’t use midday lighting: it’s harsh and will either blast your pupils, simulating an unflattering meth-addiction, or it’ll highlight your shadows and age you instead. (You don’t want that.) The best time for good-selfie lighting is early morning to midday (just before noon), and late afternoon to early evening. Also, apart from professional and expensive lighting, nothing puts beautiful catchlights in your eyes like a window. (See pic above.)
- Embrace your flaws
As you can see in my selfie, I’m make-up free and alright with showing a few lines and pores. It’s natural. Guys want to sleep with Barbie but they really don’t want to take her to lunch. Don’t be a Barbie.
- Look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass
This is my go-to look that works for most pictures. It’s alright to smile! But this is always good to fall back on and believe me, you’re going to need to fall back on this at some point.
- Stretch your face muscles before a shoot. Mimic the word “WOW” in excess, raising your eyebrows simultaneously; it’s a little weird at first, but it loosens up the expression and circulates the blood. Do this about 50 times, and really, it’s good do get in the habit of doing this daily because it tightens up the facial muscles. (I’ve done it for years.) After you’re finished, your face will relax into a “default” comfortable expression. If that doesn’t work, look like you’re going to kick somebody’s ass.
- Keep the camera slightly above your head, point your chin down a hair, and lock your eyes into place.
There’s nothing worse that enlarged nostrils, double chins, and bad angles. Keeping the camera above your head slightly (preferably at 3/4ths of an angle) will flatter your angles.
There you have it.
I’m sitting at McDonald’s with an overheating car and Peppermint Mocha, and, free internet. God Bless Micky Dees!
The inevitable has happened: my internet, cable and phone has been axed. My bill is $426, which I’ll pay in January- there were just too many things piling up at once, particularly the car, which has been overheating for several weeks now. Let me tell you, you really haven’t lived yet until your car, internet, cable, Netflix, and phone all go down at the same time.
The upside is, my house is spotless, and I’ve lost several pounds from cleaning and caring for 4 cats and a dog.
To all of you guys who have written, emailed (sent smoke signals, etc.) please know that I’ll return your emails as soon as I’m back up and online. (Two more weeks.) Bipolar Barbie, I’ll return your 6 emails then. I promise! ;0)
In other news, I’m absolutely ecstatic to be a single woman again. I just realized today that I’m fairly smoking hot at 44 still.
Taken today/12.16.13- Helios film lens
My butt is the size of Montana, which explains why I “look thin” yet weigh 160 lbs. I’m pretty sure about 25 lbs. is the junk going on back there; not that I have any plans on doing anything with it other than carting it around to do more laundry, shopping, and kitty poo duty.
Just finished reading Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries. Wow, he was total trash back in the 80’s! (I may have been as well…the whole world was stoned throughout the hair band days, including me. Or is that hair band daze?)
As much as I’d love to hang out here at McDonald’s discussing my rear , house chores and Nikki Sixx, I should probably get going as I’m on a tight schedule! Merry Christmas to all of you guys! I’ll pop in in a few more days for another sprint through blog-land.
Oh, and I made a sale at Redbubble. To the mystery buyer of my print The Longest Dream, thank you so much! I do hope you enjoy it, and if you bought it as a Christmas gift for someone else, I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed shooting it. (Shot in the rain at Perrin Park on a cold winter’s day.)
Email from today:
You’ve Made A Sale – 3045208
You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.
‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid
Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.
Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News
1x Canvas Print of “”The Longest Dream””
Size: Large (24.0″ x 4.6″)
Your Margin: US$57.00
The sale details:
Retail Price: US$157.00
Manufacturing fee: US$100.00
Total Margin: US$57.00
You’ll receive: US$57.00
For Shreya. xo
One of my short stories from several years ago.
Her fingers felt like two hot stones that had soaked up the angry sun. The sweat was gathering on her back and Ellie knew that she was racing against the clock. She’d been out there for two hours now; digging, planting, and turning over the dry, crusted earth. She wiped her brow, smearing dirt on her face; mixing it with the sweat that ran down into her ear. There wasn’t even a hint of a breeze.
“Good thing too,” she thought.
A gentle breeze would only have lulled her into the hope of being comfortable. She wasn’t much of a gardener, but her mother (and her mother’s mother) had toiled away in the burning sun, just as Ellie was doing now, and so she felt it was her womanly duties, if nothing else, to keep the grounds. It was her heritage. Her land now. Her large fingers tore at the soil and she carefully placed each small stone that introduced itself, into neat little piles. The smile that was beginning to form at the corners of her mouth, was evidence that she was quite pleased with herself. She squinted and stared up into the sun. The lemon-yellow glow, radiated out from the heavens, wrapping itself around her very heart it seemed. Panting, she let her eyes drift across the canvas of the sky, and thought of the tangy lemons in her basket over the stove. She would take a few, squeeze them tightly into a pitcher (after cutting each in half), careful not to let the seeds fall in. She’d add a few cups of sugar (she could practically taste it now), rushing to the pit of her stomach as if it too were trying to get away from the burning heat.
Ellie wiped her hand on her brown, faded dress. You know the one. A rip there at the hem from rushing through life, month after month; chores and endless lists to check off. A button- missing in the back- directly across from her burdened waist; proof that she’d rewarded herself bountifully after each carefully planned meal. The floral pattern had been beaten away by the unforgiving sun, year after year of hanging out those old stained linens. Why, they must be forty years old by now! Ellie wasn’t aware that she’d drifted off again; her eyes fixed to those linens as if it were the sheets themselves that took her back to her Jonah, and the sound of his harmonica…and her laughter. But Jonah was gone and so were the years.
She wiped her eyes, again streaking dirt across her lid. Her parched mouth brought Ellie’s eyes away from the sheets and back to her tired old hands. Lemonade. Ellie put her packages of seeds next to the neatly stacked stones, and tried to rise. It felt as if the sun had exploded in her chest; her breathing, coming in heavy gasps, and she fell to the ground, scattering the stones as she went. Ellie closed her eyes, for the sun was blinding, and she pulled at the grass, reaching for something (for what, she did not know) something to feel connected to. Even with her eyes closed, she felt the shadow move over her face. Ellie opened her eyes. The sun was hiding behind the peculiar man, causing a cool shade to fall on her. For that, she was grateful. The ripping pain in her chest, seemed to have vanished, and Ellie was wondering who the stranger was that stood before her.
”Can I help you Ma’am?” he asked kindly.
Ellie shook her head, as if to say no, but then nodded her head in confusion. The glow of the sun seemed to make him glow as if he too, were indeed part of the sun.
”Y-yes…thank you….sir….,” she answered; her voice trailing off, barely above a whisper. She looked up and into his eyes. How could it be? Her Jonah was gone, and he looked nothing like him, but his eyes…she could almost be certain they were Jonah’s. Yes. She was absolutely certain that she’d seen them before. She reached up, placing her hand into his waiting one. The man pulled her up; smiling and nodding gently as he did and Ellie let out a breath of summer air, returning his smile, and gently squeezed his hand. The sight of her linens, dancing happily in the breeze, caught her eye. The gentle wind kissed her hair, refreshing her for the first time in months. She could hear the faint trail of a harmonica playing, as many do in the country, and still holding the man’s hand, Ellie looked around to take stock in all that she had to be thankful for. This is the house that sheltered her through the many seasons of her life. The garden there, was her daily companion; patiently teaching her how to grow.
”Are you ready?” asked the man.
Ellie paused, and looked back at the scattered stones. Lying next to them was the body of Ellie Parkins. Ellie saw herself, but felt as if she were looking at a stranger. Dirt streaked her forehead, and a faint smile was still painted on her mouth. Hanging on the clothesline, were those white linens, which also seemed to glow with the strength of the sun shining through them. Ellie looked up at the man, and with one last sigh, she pursed her mouth together and nodding at her new friend, walked toward the shining sun…
It’s 5:17 a.m. and I cannot sleep. I’m sitting on the bathroom floor with my laptop deciding what I want to do next. It’s been a long time since I snuck off to another room while Josh slept! Alas, I cannot sleep. I’m actually waiting for the break of dawn so I can go on a sunrise photoshoot. It’s freezing outside! But that’s alright. I like the cold.
I’m missing Brian so much. He’s rarely here any more. I’m very happy for him though; I’m fairly certain he’s happy, and as long as he is, that’s all that matters. I’m confident that all of my children know this about me: I support them in everything they do- 100%.
I’ve decided that I want to start shooting with film lenses. Digital just doesn’t do it for me…at all. it’s too clear, focused- intentional. It cleans up all of the imperfections right away and leaves little to the imagination. I really don ‘t like it. So I picked up my first film lens (apart from two cheapies in the pawn shop), which is the SMC (super multi coated) Takumar 135/3.5. I must credit my British friend, Mark for this idea: he sent me a few pics a year ago and they blew my mind. He was using film lenses on a digital camera. Huh?! Yeah. You just have to know which adapters to get, so after a bit of research, I found the adapter for my Canon body: the M42. My Tak (or, “Super Tak” as it’s known as) came in 2 days ago, but my adapter came in today. (I could cry!) This is probably why I can’t sleep. The quality of this lens is jaw-dropping. The colours are so fantastic that I’m breaking my own self contract and will be shooting in colour- and lots of it. How could I not?
Here are a few sample images from the Super Tak:
I am completely in love with this lens! But it gets even better. I have two more that will be arriving in the upcoming week- they’re film lenses as well. I’ve decided that I’ll never shoot digital (lenses, anyway) again- only film from here on out. I love the texture and film grain that the older lenses provide. The two new lenses will be: Carl Zeiss (YES!!) 35/ 2.8 and the Helios 44M-4 58 MM f/2. They’re flying in from several different countries and I’m so excited………..!
More on this later. I have a sunrise to shoot.
It’s midterm, and here are my grades in the following classes:
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness: A
Spanish II: A
Therapeutic Interventions with Substance Abusers II: A
So I’ve been sitting here doing homework for the past (30 hours with a sleep break) few hours, and have decided to do the self-challenge that I’ve wanted to do for years: I’m going to leave my camera in monochrome for a whole year. After my next birthday, I’ll take my first coloured photograph. The majority of everything looks better to me in black and white anyway, and when I compose a shot in monochrome- as opposed to colour- it always tells a story.
I can twist the lighting any way I want and distort and change my image: pancakes become mountains- the syrrup the sea- and the edge of the syrup-filled pancake looks like a gashed-open knee. I love the way the light fades off into the syrrupy-darkness.
Clearly, I’ve done too much schoolwork and am creating little worlds now in my plate of food.
Back to the schoolwork.
“Why does this bathroom smell like pee?” says Josh. Well I don’t know Josh. Why would a bathroom smell like pee?
I’m obviously in one of my sardonic moods. Perhaps I’m tired of lying on the living room floor, bleeding profusely. Silly me, I didn’t factor in that Black Seed Oil actually accelerates blood circulation. Black Seed Oil is a essentially a panacea that is extracted from black cumin. It’s said to “cure everything but death”. (And PMS.) Because well, I’m still a &^%$#!
But as the saying goes, “this too shall pass.” Except I don’t think it will because I’ve noticed that I’ve been a &^%$# for quite some time now. I’m hoping this goes away after I graduate.
In other parts of the world, apparently, “simming in sea” is good for “blood pressure people”. I’m guessing it’s also good for “blood sugar people” and “heart and lung people”. I honestly don’t know how people find my blog sometimes but I swear, one day, I’m going to put together a post strictly on key word searches.
At least I’m not like “Bitter Ben” who is always bitter about everything. (You’re my here, Bitter Ben.)
I’ve managed to wipe out 3 major Lifetime Fitness and Wellness assignments (PMS-style- flat on my back) as well as a 5 page Criminology report, a Discussion Board posting and am getting ready to dive in to my Therapeutic Intervention with Substance Abusers II report. I’ve discovered that wine makes all of this better. Especially the last one. (Catawba Rose, to be precise.) We had a bottle left over from our trip and well, we’re just not going to let that sit around in the fridge with all this homework going on.
Josh is in the kitchen, knocking out a web page design assignment and I’m getting ready to study for my 4 chapter Criminology test that I must take tonight- after-
“HOW MUCH WINE DO WE HAVE LEFT?”
“Probably another cup,” Josh replies.
– after another cup perhaps.
Brian Bob has been gone for weeks now. 😦 He pops in from time to time to re-up on smokes, money, food, and then he’s out again. I miss him so much! He’s my only son- the big seventeen. I remember being his age though. I wanted to be with my boyfriend- what 17 year old girl just wants to hang out with her Dad?! So, Dad let me go. I moved in with my boyfriend’s family early on. I didn’t think about how my Dad would feel- not really. And now I do, with a bittersweet smile and tears in my eyes. Life has come a full circle. Bob is spending most of his time with his girlfriend, Amanda, and I am happy for him, and her too. Doesn’t life have a funny way of catching up with you? Brian Bob and his little lady (So busted- behind the bushes).
Email from instructor:
Thank you for the comments. It has been a pleasure to oversee your excellent work. Your final grade for the Health Psychology class is 92% which is an “A”. I wish you success in your future academic pursuits and career choice. Stay well!
1 down- 3 to go!
I’m headed out into the rain for an impromptu photo shoot. I’ll be going to Bernheim Forest- beautiful place. I’m not satisfied with the shadows vs. highlights in my pics- I think I need to drop my AP and increase my ISO- I want heavy blacks. Yeah, these are the things that I ponder much of the time. :0)
I received a super special email from my Health Psychology instructor; it made me cry. It said:
For assignment three;
Your work continues to be excellent. Your answers to each item were complete, supported, reasonable, and demonstrated understanding of the key concepts. It appears your absorption of the health related information will not only help you but, as an example and source of information, those whom you affect personally and/or in your career. It is a pleasure to have such a capable student.
Homeless man wanders off with Josh’s change, and his booze.
Louisville, KY- 50 MM/natural lighting/manual
I remember driving in Lousiville, Ky one night. It was summer, loud, stereos were bumping- it was a Saturday night and I was out and about in the bad side of town trying to track down my BFF at the time, Olivia; a large black woman with a brood of kids and grandchildren she’d raised. Olivia is pure gold in my eyes. We met in a homeless shelter. I had been standing along the wall “people watching” and suddenly, a burst of music rolled into the room: Olivia was laughing and dancing and spinning around- completely entertained- with a boom box on her shoulder. She was larger than life! I smiled and knew I had to meet her.
We talked after some time and realized we immediately liked each other. We spent the next few weeks hanging out together and passing time- smoking weed out back with many of the residents there. One day, I returned to the shelter and Olivia was gone. They told me she’d gotten her own place. So is the life at a homeless shelter; people come and go- you have to get used to that. Some you see later, some you never see again. It teaches you to love people hard while you have them and let go quickly. That was worked into me many years ago.
As life would have it, I ended up moving into her neighborhood just a few weeks later. For the next three years we were virtually inseparable. She helped me through some very dark times and I gleaned so many good things from her. I have a very special love for that woman. And a high respect.
After some time, we both moved out and we lost contact with each other. I had made up my mind on that particular Saturday night that I would track her down. Very much like a gypsy or nomad, I’ve traveled as a wanderer in this world. Nothing has held me back. Being poor certainly hasn’t. If anything, it’s been a catalyst.
But on that night, I set out in my car purposefully driving to the bad end of town. I knew Olivia had moved to the next state over in Kentucky, so I cross the bridge and drove into downtown Louisville. It was a hot, muggy night.
As I headed deeper into the back parts of the city, I popped open an beer, lit up a smoke and turned up the radio. (Back in those days, it was standard to find me driving with a beer nestled in between my legs- a joint or two always close by. A lot has changed since then!)
People stood out on the corners, openly dealing drugs. They knew others knew what they were doing- didn’t care. Cops rarely bothered the little fish anyway. As I was pulling up to a red light, I saw a black guy standing on the corner. I don’t know what grabbed me about him, but something did. Let’s say, it was destiny.
“Hey, you need a ride, man?” I asked him.
“Yeah, yeah…” he said and he hopped in the car.
Now this isn’t the wisest of things to do, no doubt- pick up a black guy I don’t know in the bad part of town. But at that time, I really didn’t care. I was governed by my instincts and driven with a purpose. I had no idea what my purpose was half the time, but I new that I needed to do what I was doing and that’s all I knew.
“Where ya going to, man?”
“My mother’s house,” he said.
We chitchatted briefly and he told me his story. He had been excommunicated from his family some years before. They had given up on him and pretty much cast him out. I felt really bad for the guy. He went on to tell me that he had only just decided to go and see his mother on that very night, and was in fact pondering the decision when I picked him up. I felt honoured that he would include me in that. Totally.
We bonded immediately. I may have even smoked a joint with him. It’s no big secret that I was a total stoner back then. I smoked 1 to 3 joints every day for 18 years. As a matter of fact, “stoner” is putting it mildly. My Dad had the best stuff for miles and everybody knew it. He was known for that and so I never lacked for good weed. It’s no wonder I ended up being an artist in life. Weed does that. I know everybody thinks it’s so “bad” and it’s a gateway drug and all kinds of other things that they’ve been taught to believe, but I will always be an advocate for marijuana and a person’s right to smoke it. I just don’t smoke it myself anymore and haven’t for years but I’m strongly for it, if the person and the circumstances are agreeable- let’s put it that way.
Moving right along, we eventually made it to his mother’s house. I thought we would say our goodbyes right there but he invited me to come along. Wow. He hasn’t seen his mom in years, and is hoping to be reintegrated back into the family unit and now he’s going to bring a stoned white girl with him who picked him up on the corner. Ok!
We stood outside on the porch and I stole a few glances in his direction. Even stoned, I could see a lot. He was hopeful and meek. I really like that guy. That took guts.
The door opened and a small woman stood before us, small in stature but full of expression and total shock. My mind plays it as if it’s in slow motion- her mouth, open with shock- she was yelling and mumbling and screaming to somebody else that their man had come back. I don’t remember his name now. It was 18 years ago.
She ushered us inside and we followed her to a back room where a woman lay in bed. I sat down quietly on the side of a chair and tried to disappear. I could hardly believe I was there and I felt a bit like I was in a movie. The woman in bed was his mother, who immediately cried upon seeing her son. They embraced and he crawled right up next to her and they just held each other and cried together.
I have absolutely no idea how we got on the subject but they found out that I sang and was a songwriter. What happened next can only be described as something so bizarre that it now seems more like a dream than a memory, but I sang. I sang A Capella, a song that I had written, a song about Jesus. Four strangers sat in the room there- eyes fixed on me- in a semi-petrified state, mouths slightly open. They felt honoured that I would sing for them. I was honoured that they let me.
I sang from my heart and sang especially for that mother and son. It was one of those rare moments in life that you know has been brought together- orchestrated by God even- that will never happen again: A true once in a lifetime moment.
The mother cried again and thanked me repeatedly for bringing back her son. I was especially emotional because at that time, I was separated from my own two children who the system had taken from me years before. It brought me great comfort that I could reunite a mom with her son like that, and I cried too.
I hugged them all and made my way back to my car alone. I smiled all the way home.
“You’re awesome, God,” I said, smiling, tears still in my eyes.
He smiled too.